AGTA “Doing things differently course” -2017

On the 27 November I attended the end of year Auckland Geography Teachers Association  course as part of my professional development. This was a day long course and was useful for several reasons;

  1. We discussed the 2017 externals and changes to some of the wording in Achievement standards. This was something I had not heard news about previously so it meant I knew what to look out for in 2018.
  2. We also had a speaker from the Auckland Lantern Festival come and talk to us as a number schools teach this as their “Event”. At Tamaki we look at Polyfest as this is perhaps a little more relevant to our students. Nonetheless, this got me talking to other teachers about what they do – some teachers told me that they let their students choose – which I liked the idea of and this may be something I explore in my classroom. It also allowed me to think of other events that might be interesting to students at Tamaki College.
  3. We listened to a speaker from the University of Auckland talk about Tourism in Auckland – I found this particularly interesting since it got me thinking about the possibility of working on a tourism program at Tamaki College in the future as I believe a lot of students take geography because they are interested in working in the Travel and Tourism industry.
  4. I learnt about using tour builder  this lets students annotate and create tours using google maps. I also learnt about an  app called pursued which is a game where students guess the location – if they don’t guess on time they get “kidnapped”. I also learnt some stuff on google earth about tours that students can go on that have already been created with information about a particular place. This could be a fun way to provide students a bit more insight and deepen understanding about place. Especially for topics like the Amazon where students are unable to go a visit. After the course, I took these fun activities to my department and we used this for a lesson we planned collaboratively for Year 8 students from Pamure Bridge, visiting Tamaki College. Apparently the primary students had a lot of fun playing around with maps. While I haven’t used this in my classroom yet I think these tools will be useful – potentially for pepeha or mihi (tourbuilder). I also think I will try using it for spatial patterns in Rotorua as this provides a way for students to annotate and map at the same time.
  5. Another geography teacher spoke to us about updates with DOC (Department of Conservation) at Tongariro National Park – this is where a lot of Level 2 Geography classes go for their large natural environment (we cover the Amazon). This helped me reflect on our course and think about different field trip opportunities for the future. Perhaps studying somewhere that we can visit may help Level 2’s feel more engaged and deepen their understanding.
  6. Net working- it was great to spend the day with other geography teaches and hear about their programs. I also spoke to the HOD at One Tree Hill College who has offered to be involved in the moderation process and check assessment templates and share resources.

In summary, this was an inspirational PD. I left feeling excited about planning and reviewing the geography program and hearing different ideas from other teachers has inspired me to try new things and be a little bit more creative with content. After this PD I decided to talk to my HOD about a collabrative social studies program working on several standards together around Ihuamatao (in Mangere).

SOC CON 2017 – some reflections

During the Term 3 holidays the Social Studies department attended SOC CON in Napier. This conference was 3 days in total and involved a variety of workshops and key note speakers. The overarching theme of the conference was “Developing Global Citizens”. I had never been to SOC CON before and was looking forward to attending as this was geared towards the Social Sciences. While there were many interesting points raised over the 3 days there was one highlight in particular for me that I have since taken and used in the classroom.

The Auckland Geography Teacher’s association (AGTA) did a workshop titled “Tricks and Treats to help priority learners in the classroom”. Here is the link to the presentation.

During this workshop the presenter discussed using chalk outside for students to practice their diagrams. I LOVED this idea as we were working on exam revision and my Level 1, 2, and 3 students were all required to draw various diagrams in their externals. I was keen to try this out as an exciting way to revise but also develop skills since a number of students struggled with diagrams in their mid year, end end of year practice exams.

I initially tried this with my level 2 class and got them to draw diagrams about development:




The class enjoyed it so much I tried it with my level 1 class for their natural process exam on tsunamis and their population exam:



And my Level 3 class in preparation for their cultural processes exam:



In conclusion, using chalk is a fun interactive way for students to develop their diagram drawing skills necessary in NCEA geography.


AGTA Marking in Geography

In August, 2017 I attended a marking in geography course hosted by the Auckland Geography Teachers association. As a first year teacher marking Level 1, 2 and 3 internals I felt this would be particularly beneficial as I lacked confidence in my marking.

Overall this course helped me develop confidence as I had some clarity around particular standards and heard other opinions from more experienced teachers. However, 2 things in particular stood out to me and I began to use in my teaching practice when marking internals.

  1. Holistic marking – this meant that while a student may have done well in one area and not in another as a teacher we can look at the mark holistically. This gave me more confidence in my decisions when marking. For example one level 2 student often had a strong grasp on ideas that came through in her writing but this didn’t necessarily have the same level of detail as another student – yet as a marker I was confident she had a strong grasp on the content overall. Or her use of examples demonstrated this strong knowledge rather than lots of examples that only really touch on the big ideas.
  2. Verbal re-subs – NCEA had encourage the AGTA to use verbal re-subs for assessment. I didn’t know this was possible and have started to use this as it limits time marking but also makes re-subs a bit more achievable for students who are good verbally but not so strong in their written expression. I have used this several times with students by asking them to explain and then noting their comments down on the google doc as a comment. This approach is particularly valuable for students who may struggle a bit with writing as well as being more efficient for teachers….lots of re-subs can be hard to manage teaching 3 year levels.